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Can Parents Make a Difference in Schools?

September 10, 2015
Plain English Version
Elementary school in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, NY

Elementary school in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, NY

Schools are opening.

New York City believes parents matter. It is starting an outreach program. The idea is to get parents to become active members of the school community.

The City is going door to door to urge parents to visit the schools. They want parents to talk to the teachers. They want them to visit classrooms. Programs for parents on how they can help their kids eat better and do better in school are underway.

Involving parents in schools has been a challenge for school officials.

Middle and higher-income parents are often active in school activities. They also monitor what is going on in the classroom. Lower-income parents come to the schools less often.

Some experts say schools are about learning. Parents can help, but they are no replacement for quality education. Teacher’s unions do not believe “communities” can run schools.

Supporters of charter schools believe that being able to hire and fire teachers will improve schools Other studies show that when students are engaged, they do better and attend school more often.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio stresses the importance of families’ being part of the schools.

In the poorest families, there are other problems. Sometimes the families are living in shelters. It is hard to reach those parents. Sometimes the parents have trouble with English. They are not comfortable talking to teachers. Some parents may be undocumented migrants. They do not want to expose themselves to authority figures.

You can bet on the parents, the “system” or the reformers. All three have a role. Schools are still the best places for kids to prepare for a better life. However, test scores show there is still a gap in student performance. More than anything family income remains a key sign of how students will do.

Source: The New York Times September 8, 2015

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